Trained in ceramics, Jennifer Ling Datchuk often uses a myriad of materials ranging from porcelain to fabric or embroidery. Datchuk holds an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a BFA in Crafts from Kent State University. She has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio as well as Artpace to research the birthplace of porcelain in Jingdezhen, China.
As the child of a Chinese immigrant and grandchild of Russian and Irish immigrants, the family histories of conflict she has inherited are a perpetual source for her work. She captures this conflict by exploring the emotive power of domestic objects and rituals that fix, organize, soothe, and beautify our lives.
What is something we might not know about you?
I watch a lot of television when I am working in the studio. (I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this!) I crave good stories and series and seasons. They will keep me working in the studio for hours and past the evening and into the early morning. When I look back at certain bodies of work, I can remember what show I watched when I was working on it. I’m always accepting recommendations!
What’s a happy accident that has happened at your studio recently?
It was more like a panic moment that turned into a happy accident. I sometimes tend to push new pieces close to deadlines. When it came to creating my piece “Enter the Dragon” for “Visibilities: Intrepid Women of Artpace,” I didn’t realize every specialty store I needed supplies from was closed for the winter holiday break. I couldn’t source or find the mirrored gold plexiglass I have been using in my work anywhere locally, and online was astronomically expensive. After searching every hardware, craft, and thrift store for ideas, I finally stumbled upon the gold mirror mosaic tiles. The distortion that happens from the very small .25” mirrors fits the idea the best and was truly a happy accident. I also love that it is a “craft” material, and it is primarily used to adorn dressers and frames for your perfect bathroom vanity set up.
What has been the most rewarding project thus far in your career?
I’ve wanted to give up so many times in my art practice because, for a long time, it was a struggle to be financially stable. I am so glad I stuck with it and find every project super rewarding. I am most inspired by the connections my work makes and for all the kind and supportive messages I receive.
If you could spend a day with an artist anywhere in the world, who would it be?
Mona Hatoum. I have been inspired by her since undergraduate school and her diverse practice of performance, sculpture, installation. Her powerful work addresses themes of conflict, desire, repulsion, fear, and fascination and uses a lot of domestic objects to challenge the familiar. I’ve heard she’s a deeply private person, and I always dream of casually running into her but feel like I would say everything wrong or just wouldn’t speak at all.
Do you ever trade art with other artists?
Yes, artist trades and trade agreements are special bonds and such a great way to collect art. I think most of our ceramic cups are trades from other artists, and I love that I get to have coffee with my friends every morning.
If you could recommend a museum/gallery anywhere in the world, which one would it be?
This is such a hard one to narrow down! The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is on top of my list. It is the largest decorative arts museum in the world and has an amazing collection and display of slip-cast production ware -think figurines, dishes, and trinkets – and one massive floor is dedicated to ceramic history. There are a visual timeline and collection of what each continent was making in clay so you can what each culture and country was making but also where you can see when trade influence and changed aesthetics. It’s all about global migrations and exchanges of culture and so fascinating. The V&A also has an amazing café with the most delectable pastries, teas, and lunch fare in a William Morris Tiffany designed room. Get there early for a scone, clotted cream and tea and spend time in the galleries, take a lunch break, and explore the other half of the museum, it’s that big.
Who would you like us to interview next?
Mari Hernandez, Jacqueline Saragoza McGilvray, Brittany Ham, Audrey LeGalley, Evelyn Gonzalez, Jenelle Esparza, Sol Macias, Angela Walley, Lisette Chavez, and Lacey Mills